Hand Signals to Use During a Bicycle Ride

Before you hop on a bike and go for a ride, it is important to learn how to use proper hand signals. The purpose of these important hand gestures is to help you communicate with drivers on the road and, in turn, reduce the risk that you will be hit by a car and need the help of a bicycle accident attorney.  In the event a bicyclist is hit by a vehicle, the resulting injuries can be tragic. Remember, your safety comes first. If for any reason you are clipped by a car driver while riding a bike, call law enforcement and an ambulance right away.

Here in this article, we have listed a few crucial hand signals that you can quickly learn and utilize when traveling on your bike. If you are riding with a team of people, consider having everyone learn hand gestures for effective communication.

Why is knowing hand signals so important when on a bicycle?

When riding a bicycle solo, hand signals are a great way to notify motorists of your intention – that is, where you plan to go and what you will do next. It also helps signal to other bicyclists (if you are riding as a group) about upcoming actions planned for the group.  Hand signals can help bicyclists stick together and act in a coordinated manner, thus lessening the potential that motorists will be surprised.  Accurately forecasting your intent is crucial when interacting with the motoring public, and using such signals will also improve your ability to seek justice if you are injured by a motorist in the course of your ride.

How many hand signals should a bicyclist memorize?

Learning hand signals is a great way to practice safety while riding a bike. Beginning cyclists, or those new to using signals, should practice their hand signals before attempting using them while riding.  Remember, hand signals can only grant protection when they are done properly.  Standard hand signals are very simple and easy to memorize. Listed here are nine gestures that a rider should consider mastering in order to communicate with car drivers or other bicyclists.  Please note that in the U.S., when attempting to communicate with MOTORISTS, the standard generally calls for use of the LEFT hand to insure visibility due to the layout of our roadways:

  1. Right Turn:  Depending on where you are, there are two (2) methods to approach this.  The standard signal uses your LEFT arm extended straight out to the side, bent at the elbow with the forearm facing up.    When interacting with MOTORISTS, this version should generally be used.  An alternate version for communicating primarily with other riders, would be to use your right arm extended straight out from your body while pointing with your first finger, at least ten yards prior to your planned turn.
  2. Left Turn: = use your LEFT arm and extend straight out from your body while pointing with your first finger, at least ten yards prior to your planned turn.
  3. Stop: = When communicating to MOTORISTS, the standard signal calls for using the LEFT arm extended out away from the left side of the body and bend down 90 degrees at the elbow.  Alternatively, when communicating to other cyclists, quick stops can be signaled by putting your hand behind your back while making a fist.  Bear in mind that motorists may not understand this signal.
  4. Slowing Down: = when communicating to other cyclists, slowing can be signaled by placing your hand behind your lower back with an open palm out.  Bear in mind that motorists may not understand this signal.
  5. Draft: = when attempting to signal to another rider within a pace line, pat your lower hip on the side that you want him or her to draft.  Bear in mind that motorists may not understand this signal.
  6. Pull Through: = when planning to drift back into a line of riders, you can signal by making a swiping gesture with your elbow on either right or left side (depending on where you want to drop back) while keeping your hands on the handlebars.  Bear in mind that motorists may not understand this signal.
  7. Single Road Hazard: = riders can signal to others in their group that a hazard exists by pointing directly to hazard.  Bear in mind that motorists may not understand this signal.
  8. Hazard (on shoulder): = use arm straight out from body with open palm & place hand to lower back to signal slowing down.  Bear in mind that motorists may not understand this signal.
  9. Debris on Road (or loose gravel): = point with arm towards the gravel/debris using an open palm while using a shaking motion.  Bear in mind that motorists may not understand this signal.

 


 

Thank you to our friends and contributors at Barry P. Goldberg, Canoga Park bike accident attorney.for their insight into bicycle accidents and the use of signals to lessen the risks.